Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Civic Palimpsests

Toys "R" Us Canada has filed for bankruptcy protection in an attempt to do what everybody does these days and that's move forward.

Above are two signs. The first is the Toys "R" Us sign at the 1100-block West Broadway; the second is the Bowell-McLean car dealership sign over which the Toys "R" Us name was placed.

How did this happen?

In 1958 Bowell-McLean built what was then the largest free-standing sign in North American, illuminated or otherwise. Some loved it, some didn't, some didn't care either way. Among the "didn't"s was the band Pied Pumkin, who wrote a song about it that I can't find anywhere.

After Toys "R" Us purchased the Bowell-McLean car lot in the mid-1990s, Vancouverites petitioned to save the Bow/Mac sign. In 1997 Vancouver city council declared the Bow/Mac sign a landmark, but that it had to share with Toys "R" Us.

Something similar happened a few years later with the Hotel Niagara at the 900-block West Pender. Eventually the waterfall under which Ramada imposed its name was erased.

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